CLEVELAND — The majority of kids across northeast Ohio are back in their classrooms. While this year has been anything but normal, a Cleveland teacher is showing her students that togetherness is key as we navigate the pandemic.
Ms. Tajuana Taylor is a middle school English Language Arts teacher at East Academy in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood.
On Fridays, Ms. Taylor's class has a project called "Freestyle Fridays," where students are encouraged to write about what they are feeling. Most of the students seemed to gravitate toward poetry, even writing raps. And that spurred big ideas in the classroom.
"Some of my scholars started creating raps and poems and then I made a challenge – if they show some growth and start writing, that I would actually rap! So they challenged me, and I met their challenge," Ms. Taylor said, laughing.
"It just started as something fun for us to do. When we started talking about it I was like, well what should I rap about? Well, how about living in a pandemic?" Ms. Taylor said.
And so the project was born.
Ms. Taylor said the goal was to inspire students across northeast Ohio who may be nervous heading back into the classroom, after doing distance learning because of the pandemic.
"Like, it’s a scary time but with different precautions, we can actually make it fun. So that was like the goal," Ms. Taylor said. "Let’s get back into learning, let’s have fun, we can make it happen, we can get thru this together."
The students also said, the song inspired them to concentrate more on their studies.
"The song actually motivated me to do better in school and go to school and be successful in life and try to be a great person," said Javion Davenport, a student in Ms. Taylor's class.
The students all agreed, the one silver lining in this pandemic has been being able to slow down, and the time they’ve been able to spend with their families.